Consumer-free, Motorola Solutions unlocks innovation impetus

Year after spinoff from consumer business, company now has flexibility to invest in R&D and focus on innovative workflow offerings targeted at specific industries such as retail, healthcare and hospitality, says exec.
Written by Kevin Kwang on

SINGAPORE--Splitting the company into two entities--Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility--has allowed the former more operational flexibility and to better service customers by offering workflow-specific products and services that target industry segments such as retail, healthcare and hospitality, among others.

Phey Teck Moh, corporate vice president of Motorola Solutions Asia-Pacific, revealed that the company now has "focus" and "greater refinement" in terms of the businesses and industry verticals they can target. Additionally, it can also invest more research and development (R&D) resources in areas it has identified as growth segments, he added.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia at the sidelines of the company's media briefing held here Tuesday, Phey pointed to Motorola Solutions' positive full-year 2011 financial results, released in late-January, as evidence it is thriving since the spinoff. The company reported sales of US$8.2 billion over the past year, up 8 percent from US$7.6 billion in 2010.

Motorola first announced in February 2010 plans to split the company into two entities, with Motorola Solutions comprising its enterprise and network offerings, and the other encompassing its mobile devices and home entertainment products. The spinoff was finalized in January 2011.

With the increased operational flexibility, Phey pointed out that Motorola Solutions has been able to introduce more workflow-specific products and services to address needs relevant to industry domains it plays strongly in, including government, public safety, retail, healthcare and manufacturing.

The retail market, for instance, is a growth opportunity for the company to tap, he said. He explained that Asian consumers, many of whom are from the growing middle-class in markets such as China and India, are spurring the growth of retail stores. He noted that, over the past decade, Asia-Pacific saw an average 16,000 new grocery stores a year. By 2011, there were 220,000 grocery stores in the region. These stores refer to "automated, corporatized" hypermarkets. 

In more mature markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and Japan, since there are no new store growth opportunities, retail operators focus on improving customer experience, he added.

Singapore's Cold Storage, for example, introduced self-checkout kiosks for customers to bypass store cashiers, hence, changing the purchasing process. He added that Motorola Solutions was involved in this deployment.

The vendor is also looking at empowering store associates by providing them the right tools and information to serve customers who are more product-savvy these days, Phey said. Many are turning to the Internet and social media sources to gather information about products they want to purchase, even before going to the store to buy them.

As such, sales people need to be prepared to provide the right information such as cross comparison of product details, and price comparisons from different retailers--and to do so without leaving the customer's side, he noted.

Solving enterprise mobility challenges
This is where devices such as Motorola Solutions' enterprise-grade, Android-based ET1 tablet, can serve as a mobile tool for sales associates to provide customers with the necessary information, Phey added.

Products such as the ET1, and tools such as its mobile software development framework, RhoElements, are aimed at addressing one of the key trends developing in the enterprise space--the "rise of mobile workers", he said.

He pointed out that, by 2013, some 36 percent of the global working population will be mobile workers, and added that it was important Motorola Solutions evolved to meet their needs.

Cecilia Eng, the company's Asia-Pacific enterprise product manager, who was present at the same briefing, added that there are over 300 software developers currently creating programs for its devices. However, she did not know the exact number of developers working specifically on RhoElements.

The development framework, which allows developers to create platform-agnostic apps based on HTML 5, was launched in Asia last October and was to address issues related to the slow development of Microsoft's enterprise-grade operating systems--Windows Mobile and Windows CE--on which many of Motorola Solutions' devices are based, Eng added.

Phey added that while the company could possibly look into creating an "enterprise-grade app store" for such apps in the future, this was not high on its priority list at the moment.


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